You may have read my first post on the first week of our Europe Road Trip, from Folkestone to Lake Como. Here is the second week of our journey and how we made our way back to the UK. This week was less hectic in that we didn’t have as many one night stops as before. We managed to have “rest” days so the ladies didn’t have to sit on the passenger seat and just navigate.
We were in Lake Como for 3 nights and we stayed at Hotel Lario. Somewhere to rest the cars and back sides and relax. There was parking and it had views of the lake however the hotel was dated. I guess it didn’t matter because we were barely in the room and in a prime location.
Some highlights from our Lake Como:
- Strolling around Bellagio and eating some perfectly made pizza with an Aperol Spritz while watching the world go by. A ferry from Lake Como to Bellagio was 18 euros for two. Bellagio is beautiful and a must – there is a lot of money on the island which means some eateries are expensive. Walk inside the little streets and you will find somewhere that is better value for
- Kev and I did have a cocktail at the Grand Hotel, Villa Serbelloni. it was around 20 euros but a prime location with views of the lake and had been voted as the No 1 Resort in Italy.
- Lunch with a view at Lago Food & Co just by the ferry stop. Prawns with Burrata, Aperol Spritz, Tomato spaghetti – thinking about it makes my mouth water.
- Visiting the Oleificio Vanini Osvaldo to see how Oliver Oil is made and buy some
- Cooling Gelato at La Fabbrica Del Gelato – the Italians obviously make the best
- Tour around Villa Del Balbianello. A beautiful National Trust site and famous film location for Star Wars and James Bond movies.
We had dinner at the Lario hotel, Hosteria Magnolia and a local take pizza shop. The best meal was at the local pizzeria- cheap, cheerful and authentic. The best Tiramisu was at Hosteria Magnolia. We also ate at a local fair which was nice – apparently in Lake Como, polenta was the dish to have and that was served instead of potatoes or pasta.
Lake Como to Interlaken
After a lovely 3 nights, we needed to start our journey back home.
We drove past Airlonia, Switzerland, and went up and down some more passes, some James Bond filming spots, followed by in and out of several tunnels into Interlaken. It is amazing how the passes have been created. Interlaken has several hiking and skiing trails. The scenery of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, the mountains and old timber houses also makes it a popular location for film sets. The actual city is small however it is the place for outdoor activities.
We stayed at Hotel Beausite for 3 nights to have a full Swiss experience. A hotel I would recommend. The rooms are small but clean. We had the view of mountains which was always nice to wake up to. The hotel had a good breakfast buffet (including a curry every day to cater for the diverse tourists) and every day between 4 and 6 they had free cake and tea for guests.
We didn’t get to the hotel until 8pm and my stomach was rumbling so we walked down to the first open restaurant, Restaurant Baren, for some Swiss delights including cheese fondue. It had a rustic chalet feel to it and the warm service added to the ambience.
After dinner, we strolled around the town centre and I was taken back by the number of Asian restaurants and Shisha bars there. After a week of cheese and ham, we were all ready for some spice and the second night booked into a Chinese restaurant.
We had a day drip to Brienz to see the Giessbach waterfalls and to admire the gorgeous Grandhotel Giessbach one of the guys from the trip was staying at (a Blue brothers fan).
On route to the Giessbach we stopped on the opposite side at Hotel Brienzerburli for coffee and cake. Grandhotel Giessbach – located on a hill above Lake Brienz it was an amazing hotel.
We missed out on lunch at the hotel with the rest of the guys from the trip because Kev & I had to make our way back to paraglide thanks to Paragliding Interlaken (AD partly Gifted). The tandem paragliding flight took us from Beatenberg to Interlaken. An amazing experience apart from when we did some acrobats in the air.. my stomach took a couple of hours to settle after that. The aerial views were amazing.
Highlights of Interlaken
- Paragliding over Interlaken
- Having the best chocolate and cheese fondue
- Blowing an Alphorn in the town square outside restaurant Bebbis
- People watching by Victoria Jungfrau Hotel
- Visiting the Giessbach waterfalls. You can walk behind the waterfalls which is an amazing experience.
Interlaken to Chamonix
The well-known ski resort was our home for 2 nights. We got there late afternoon and the sun was shining. Our hotel, Hotel Excelsior, had views of Mont Blanc. Once we checked in I headed straight for the pool. Swimming whilst admiring the views around was priceless.
Chamonix is not great for taxis and if you get one be prepared to pay at least 20 euros for a short trip. They have a great bus service which runs until around 8pm and most hotels will give you a free bus pass for the duration of your stay.
I did want to go up the cable cars but the next day the skies were overcast and the receptionist said it would be a waste of 60 euros because we wouldn’t see anything.
The city centre was cute and we enjoyed hot chocolates and pastries. Kev & I chose not to have breakfast at the hotel and to enjoy french croissants instead.
We had dinner at the following restaurants:
- Le Monchu: A popular restaurant in the town centre. I had mussels to start with followed by the traditional raclette. The raclette was nice however the staff could have done more to ensure we knew what we were doing. The food was good in the restaurant but the service was not great which was a shame
- Brasserie de L’M: A cosy wooden interior restaurant in the town centre. Here we enjoyed cooking meat on a hot stone along with some amazing fries.
On route to Chamonix, we passed the Jaunpass (high mountain pass) and stopped in a traditional Swiss chalet for some coffee. This place was traditional and perfect- the toilets were where the cows were milked and it felt like going back in time. They even made their own cheese there.
Chamonix to Troyes
Our last stop before we drop to the UK. Troyes city centre is medieval and the buildings are beautiful.
On route to Troyes we stopped at Dijon. Dijon is known for the traditional mustard. The city has beautiful architecture and some amazing museums. Apparently, it is one of the wine capitals of France too (I should have done more research before but it was an unplanned stop). We had about 2 hours before we needed to head to Troyes so did not get to do much but I would love to return one day.
Beautiful cobbled streets and clean and lovely buildings. It reminded me a bit of Croatia. It was easy to find parking and a kind restaurant manager agreed to make us some quiche and fries at 3 pm (everywhere stops serving food at 2pm).
Like any tourist would we bought back from mustard. I was blown away by the flavours and the tastes of what was available to buy.
Troyes has some Gothic churches and is the ancient capital of Champagne. The streets are filled with multicolored timber houses and give the town a lot of character.
Troyes to Folkestone
The next morning we headed to Reims to see the old Grand Prix Circuit. This closed in 1972 however even today you get cars whizzing past at their top speed on the straight. Of course, the SLK drivers were going to do the same too.
From Reims, we went to Cambrai for some late lunch. We sat on the Market Square while tucking into our final french meal. In Interlaken someone was talking about how nice the horse meat was and Kev could not find it anywhere but here. He said it was lean and nice.
We drove towards the Sommes battlefields and paid a visit to a couple of the fields and Thiepval Memorial. A moving site but worth a visit.
Hope you enjoyed the rough guides on our road trip. It is really hard to describe every route and place but hopefully the photos have painted the picture. If you need any more information just send me an email.